The vindication of Mitt Romney

Defeated presidential candidate Mitt Romney was right about an awful lot of things, including some things he was roundly criticized for saying during the presidential campaign.  The most grimly humorous example was his comment about Jeep production moving to China – hilariously rated “Lie of the Year” by Politifact, which ignored a blizzard of absolute bull from Barack Obama to bestow the honor.

The Huffington Post did a nice job of summarizing what Romney actually said, and why he said it, back in October:

When Mitt Romney told a crowd in Ohio last week that he had read a report saying Jeep was “thinking of moving all production to China,” there was at least a potentially defensible explanation.

A Bloomberg story published the previous Monday had stated that Fiat, which owns Chrysler, “plans to return Jeep output to China and may eventually make all of its models in that country.”

A line was added to the Bloomberg story after it was published stating that Mike Manley, chief operating officer of Fiat and Chrysler in Asia, was referring to “adding Jeep production sites rather than shifting output from North America to China.” The Romney campaign told The Huffington Post on Tuesday that the update was after Romney made his remark on Thursday. It’s not clear whether that’s true or not, but what is known is that Chrysler refuted press reports about the Bloomberg story before Romney spoke Thursday evening in Defiance, Ohio.

Of course, this is the Huffington Post, so right after admitting “it’s not clear” whether Romney’s reasonable timeline was “true or not,” they went on to strongly imply that it wasn’t.

At any rate, we learned from the Detroit News on Monday that Romney was absolutely correct about Jeep moving production to China, although not all of it.  Not yet, anyway.

Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne said the automaker plans to build some Jeeps in China for the local market – and later, in Russia.

As part of our global expansion of the Jeep brand, there are some cars ??? that because of the price position in the market ??? can never be made in the U.S. and exported,” Marchionne told reporters on the sidelines of the North American International Auto Show. “We’re going to be announcing the first step in the globalization of Jeep (in China). There’s another one that’s going to come in Russia. These things are part of a natural process of expansion.”

Marchionne said he will keep “the pillar cars of the Jeep (brand) in the United States. Wrangler is one. The Grand Cherokee is another. These are things that need to be protected because they represent the best and the essence of Jeep. If you tell me I cannot make a Patriot somewhere else, I might as well go out of the market.”

It’s so encouraging to know that “some cars can never be made in the U.S. and exported,” isn’t it?  Politifact’s “Lie of the Year” therefore turns out to be at least “partially true.”

Then we’ve got the situation in Mali, where the United States is on the verge of being drawn into a conflict between French forces and Islamist rebels.  CNN relays some tough talk from Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:

The U.S. military could provide logistical and intelligence support in the French effort against Islamist rebels in Mali, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Monday.

The U.S. will “provide whatever assistance it can” as part of what Panetta said was the U.S. global efforts against al Qaeda.

“We have a responsibility to go after al Qaeda wherever they are. And we’ve gone after them in the FATA (Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas). We’re going after them in Yemen and Somalia. And we have a responsibility to make sure that al Qaeda does not establish a base for operations in North Africa and Mali,” Panetta told reporters traveling with him to Europe.

The State Department said Monday the United States is in consultation with the French now on a number of requests that they have made for support.

To hear Panetta talk, you’d never know that France took action because it was tired of waiting for the Obama Administration to do something about al-Qaeda taking over the country… or that the top Islamist rebels have American weapons and training, a development that seems to have stunned the easily stunned Obama Administration.  The New York Times  took stock of the mess on Monday:

For years, the United States tried to stem the spread of Islamic militancy in the region by conducting its most ambitious counterterrorism program ever across these vast, turbulent stretches of the Sahara.

But as insurgents swept through the desert last year, commanders of this nation???s elite army units, the fruit of years of careful American training, defected when they were needed most ??? taking troops, guns, trucks and their newfound skills to the enemy in the heat of battle, according to senior Malian military officials.

???It was a disaster,??? said one of several senior Malian officers to confirm the defections.

Then an American-trained officer overthrew Mali???s elected government, setting the stage for more than half of the country to fall into the hands of Islamic extremists. American spy planes and surveillance drones have tried to make sense of the mess, but American officials and their allies are still scrambling even to get a detailed picture of who they are up against.

Now, in the face of longstanding American warnings that a Western assault on the Islamist stronghold could rally jihadists around the world and prompt terrorist attacks as far away as Europe, the French have entered the war themselves.

(Emphasis mine.)  Insurgents were sweeping through the desert and scooping up the American-trained commanders of elite army units last year?  Why didn’t somebody mention Mali during the presidential debates?  Why, as a matter of fact, somebody did… and he was roundly mocked for it by Obama supporters, although not in France.  From a contemporaneous report in the New Yorker:

Une petite note on last night???s foreign-policy debate: Mitt Romney???s mini-seminar on Mali, largely overlooked by Americans, drew notice in France. Bob Schieffer???s first question to the candidates concerned American policy in the Middle East, ???the new face of terrorism,??? and what happened in Libya: ???I???d like to hear each of your thoughts on that.??? Romney went first. His answer: ???This is obviously an area of great concern to the entire world and to America in particular, which is to see a compete change in the structure and the environment in the Middle East. With the Arab Spring came a great hope that there would be a change toward moderation ??? but instead we???ve seen in nation after nation a number of disturbing events.??? He mentioned Syria. He mentioned Libya. He mentioned Mali???northern Mali, in particular. He concluded, ???What we???re seeing is a pretty dramatic reversal in the kind of hopes we had for that region.???

No, no, no, we were told!  It’s crazy to question Barack Obama’s dazzling foreign policy triumphs!  He killed Osama bin Laden, didn’t he?  Why was this strange Romney fellow bringing up some obscure country called “Mali,” and mentioning it in the same breath as Syria and Libya?  Low-information voters couldn’t even understand why Romney was so upset about those four “bumps in the road” in Libya.  They certainly didn’t want to hear about the bumpy road to Mali, and who can blame them?  It would be almost three whole months before we found ourselves supporting our ally France in a shooting war over there.